University of the Philippines remained on track clinching a Final Four twice-to-beat advantage after eliminating Far Eastern University from semifinals contention, 81-64, in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 men’s basketball tournament Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Fighting Maroons started off hot creating an 11-point separation, had a little trouble at the start of the second quarter before eventually taking full control of the game in the second half on their way to hiking their win-loss record to 10-2 at the top spot.
UP, which secured a fifth straight semis stint, only needs to win its last two elimination round assignments to bag the semis advantage.
“That’s the goal (to get the semis incentive). We’re just taking it one practice, one game at a time. We know what’s at stake,” Fighting Maroons assistant coach Christian Luanzon said.
“Last game, it clinched the Final Four for us and now it’s another goal so coach Gold (Monteverde) reminded the team to just keep pounding.”
Sophomore Aldous Torculas had a career game, scoring 13 points off a 5-of-8 field goal shooting he laced with five rebounds, two assists and two steals to lead UP.
Francis Lopez added 12 markers, grabbed nine boards and dished out four assists while Harold Alarcon posted 11 points for the Fighting Maroons.
UP opened the game with a 16-5 scoring barrage only to see FEU mount a counterattack behind Jorick Bautista’s outside shooting in the closing stretch of the first quarter. The Tamaraws even took a two-point lead at the start of the second quarter but was easily erased by Fighting Maroons, who pulled away for good in the second half.
Chicco Briones gave UP its biggest lead, 66-47, off a jumper with 8:06 left in the payoff period. From there the Tamaraws never came closer than 11.
FEU dropped its fourth game in a row and slid to a 3-9 slate to miss the Final Four for the second straight season.
LJ Gonzales got 20 points while Bautista added 17 markers for the Tamaraws.
UP (81) – Torculas 13, Lopez 12, Alarcon 11, Briones 9, Cagulangan 7, Diouf 6, Felicilda 4, Pablo 4, Abadiano 4, Gonzales 4, Torres 3, Cansino 2, Gagate 2, Alter 0, Belmonte 0.
FEU (64) – Gonzales 20, Bautista 17, Sleat 8, Torres 8, Faty 6, Tempra 3, Ona 2, Bagunu 0, Montemayor 0, Buenaventura 0, Felipe 0, Competente 0.
Quarters: 16-13, 34-27, 60-47, 81-64